At long last Mary and I and the rest of the Animal Defenders International (ADI) team arrived at The ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa. We are all exhausted after weeks of trying to get 17 rescued lions and tigers out of Guatemala. To get here we traveled through four countries, spending thirty-some hours in the air.
The press was on hand and did a raft of great stories including this one on CNN world news, filmed as a big storm was gathering. Unfortunately, what was supposed to blow over in 15 – 30 minutes became a violent rainstorm. The release of the animals was halted for obvious safety reasons. The 5 huge flatbed trucks that brought them on the four-hour drive here from the airport were all able to fit into a huge secure barn for the night. They were fed and given fresh water one more time.
There was no way to get the three tigers that had already been released back into a dry space. They do have several shelters in the large area into which they were released and so everyone just had to hunker down and wait out a terrible night.
The men here were on alert all night long, patrolling this huge area in their cars to make sure that the tigers were okay. Still it was a long, long night. Worst of all, the remaining animals whom we had so hoped to get out of those travel cages had to stay in them for another 12 hours.
During the night Mary and I were each awakened by the sound of lions roaring, talking to each other. They’re the 24 lions rescued earlier who now live here in the sanctuary. It’s a remarkable sound. At dawn when we met in the living room we looked out to see the two young tigers, released the night before, stroll past the windows and lay down in the tall grass 20+ feet from us. No sign of their father, but he did show up later. And we spent the entire day today releasing every one of the other lions and tigers.
We quit work a few hours ago and I am writing this before I head to bed because I know you are all sending your love and your prayers, which certainly have sustained us during the worst of this arduous journey of compassion.
So we are here. Many wonderful stories can be written now that we are here and safe. I will continue this blog that I have started on The Guibord Center’s website and I urge you to look at the Animal Defenders International Facebook page or website which are carrying rich pieces of this journey.
It has been so busy that I am just now downloading the 1100 photos taken in the last 5 days. I will leave you with a few. (Editors note: Due to spotty wifi connections only one photo came through with this message. Stay tuned for more.)
Gratefully – and tired.
Love and thanks to you all,
Lo (and Mary)